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Buying from search results preview pane test

By Chris Dawson August 17, 2011 - 11:14 pm

Don’t be surprised if things look slightly different next time you’re searching for an item – eBay are about to start testing enhanced versions of the search results page for a limited number of buyers.

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There will be several different versions, but in one incarnation you’ll actually be able to make your purchase direct from search results without ever visiting the view item page showing the full seller details and description.

In search results you’ll see a blue arrow when you mouse over a listing and clicking anywhere in the item information (apart from title or picture) will open up a sidebar showing gallery images, pricing, seller details and in some instances a Buy It Now button.

I have to say with a few reservations I like this new Preview Pane. When I’m buying consumables like printer toner or jiffy bags I don’t necessarily need to see the View Item page. I don’t need to read reams of information that the seller may feel important such as about their company or their detailed terms and conditions of trading – I just want to buy the product and get on with my day.

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However I can see that, for some products, limited information could be a drawback for both the buyer and the seller but eBay have thought of this too. They’ll also be testing the ability for the buyer to see full details of the product – essentially a second Preview Pane opens up where the seller description is displayed.

Buyers may choose not to purchase from the search results page and so this may never roll out site wide in it’s current format. However it will still be useful as eBay can display information buyers often visit the View Item page for such as Item Location and Seller Feedback. These details can be displayed in the Preview Pane enabling buyers to rule out a particular search result or decide that the product is indeed worth further consideration.

The new feature will also alter the basic search results page layout. The information will no longer be presented in columns, but details such as Price, Bids, Postage and the Top Rated Seller icon will appear in a triangle beneath the item title.

There are some interesting considerations for sellers for example eBay gallery pictures will be displayed in the Preview Pane. In Clothes Shoes & Accessories up to 12 gallery images are free, but there’s a charge for gallery images in other categories. Many sellers have a sidebar embedded on the left hand side of their product descriptions or large headers, sellers will need to evaluate their usefulness compared to having item information prominently displayed in the Search Results Preview Pane.

The tests will run for several weeks while eBay evaluate the results. Whilst you can’t opt in or out of the test if your account is included in the tests you’ll be able to give feedback comments from a link in the Preview Pane.

Don’t wait to give eBay feedback though, tell us what you think in comments below – Will you purchase direct from the search results page and do you want your buyers to have the ability to do the same?

  • 8 years ago

    This is another step away from what eBay does best — allowing the “long tail” of goods to be sold to the highly granular market of individual buyers.

    It relies on search being good (it’s not) and the catalogue being an adequate description (it isn’t).

    Furthermore, it disrupts the feedback system at the “heart of eBay’s DNA” — do you still get to leave the anonymous and unaccountable “As Described” DSR if you never read the description and buy off a badly-constructed catalogue page?

    Fine if all one is selling is stuff that sells on Amazon – DVDs or USB memory sticks, but what about the rest of the stuff that only sells on eBay? The stuff that keeps it as the broadest e-commerce platform available?

    I’d really like to see eBay play to its strengths and be a little less defensive about its competition. It has a lot to be proud of and should be shouting out its great advantages.

    • Old Hand
      8 years ago

      Agreed. Maybe good for repeat purchases of basic items and only from known sellers if more than a few quid.

      Having panes pop up when scrolling down the page is an irritation and time waste. More PSYOP from eBay when there are other things to fix, other places to allocate resources.

  • 8 years ago

    If I were going to design this feature I wouldn’t allow purchases from search unless the buyer has already visited the listing in the past. That would force buyers to view what they are purchasing at least once while still providing the preview pane to rule out listings without having to visit them.

  • 8 years ago

    @David

    I think eBay is actually doing what it does best with this. They are experimenting, getting data, trying to understand buyers and sellers and looking to make a decision.

    I have a whole lot of reservations about the nature of the idea. But never forget that eBay is a most data rich, cautious and clever company.

    This research, and I can understand worries about using live eBay as a lab, is about finding ways and means of accelerating sales. It’s August. A good time to explore.

    Put simply, eBay wants more buyers and more sales. They’re just looking for more than a gut feel.

    Dan

    • Old Hand
      8 years ago

      eBay is procrastinating, doing something that looks fun and interesting whilst ignoring important issues that need fixing. It’s more PSYOP, they themselves have been deluded by PSYOP in to believing it.*

      Due to one of eBay’s recent initiatives I got a sequence of nine item posted/postage cancelled email messages, apparently the seller had a problem with eBay postage.

      There is no point eBay trying to make it easier to (maybe accidentally) buy something if buyers are put off by other parts of the buying process.

      I buy a lot online, mostly I get two messages, an order/payment confirmation and item dispatched, it is only eBay that fills my inbox with junk mail, some daft sellers add to it with Auctiva spam too.

      *That’s actually a serious point, you can trace it all back to military cuts under Clinton in the mid 90’s when US military intelligence was slashed as the internet boom got under way.

  • 8 years ago

    I think this experiment answers the decreasing attention span of Internet users. And everyone wants everything fast.

    But like what David mentioned above, one concern is for more buyers not reading the description and returning them plus a negative feedback for the seller.

  • 8 years ago

    As mentioned already, pop ups are exceptionally annoying, this would only add further to the frustration of trawling through the mess that is Best Match, but thank fully I don’t buy anything on eBay so it’s not going to be an issue.

    Speaking as a seller, I really couldn’t be less interested.

    • 8 years ago

      What’s up Norf?

    • John Pemberton
      8 years ago

      Manchester I believe – the centre of the universe! lol

    • northumbrian
      8 years ago

      Manchesters just about in the tropics

    • Chris
      8 years ago

      Not from Cornwall its not. As far as we are concerned its in the Artic Circle.

  • northumbrian
    8 years ago

    ???

  • Chris
    8 years ago

    I have always been in favour of Experiments. After all it might be that the Experiment could develop into something that is of real benefit to us all. But the thing about experiments is that if they fail they can be quietly killed off. So I hope that eBay treats this as an Experiment. Studies all the results – good and bad and doesn’t just carry it on and lumber us with some long term half baked scheme. eBay needs to develop. It needs to find and develop ideas but some of those ideas could be blind alleys. It is only by trying the various ideas as experiments that it can develop in the long term and that can only be in all of our interests.

    • 8 years ago

      I think it’s worth pointing out that eBay have been testing this for some time in the eBay Garden and that the UK versions being tested already have some difference from what they’ve already learnt.

      The one thing as Dan pointed out that eBay are hot on is metrics, metrics, metrics. They don’t change anything permanently until they are 99.9% certain they know the effect it’ll have on the site.

  • hans
    8 years ago

    I thought updates were only limited to twice a year, it seems they are always messing about with stuff, their doesn’t seem a week without them trying something else, instead of sorting out the important things like when marking stuff as dispatched the page refreshes only to re show all the other listings you have already marked as dispatched, this makes a 5 minute job into a 25 minute job daily.

    • Gary
      8 years ago

      Every action by a server customer (buyer or seller) is given a server priority status of 1 to 5. Clearly eBay have to give buying actions a server status of 1 meaning the server has to prioritise these actions ahead of any other and update instantly. Data packets are processed immediately by the server.

      Sales manager actions are probably given a priority of 5 meaning that they can be queued and data packets processed in a batch by the server. This results in the sales manager data update lag.

      The answer to this sales manager data update lag is for eBay to increase server capacity and upgrade the status of the sale manager data packets.

    • Gary
      8 years ago

      Every time eBay introduce new processes they have to consider increasing server capacity. Processes produce data packets and the more processes you have the more data packets are generated. If ebay do not increase sever capacity the whole site may slow down.

  • Gary
    8 years ago

    Buyers score 2 of the DSRs on item as described and despatch time.

    If a purchase is made direct from search will these catagories automatically score 5*?

    Given that eBay already handle most of the communications the only remaining DSR catagory still for the most part (shipping caps controlled by eBay) in the control of the seller are the shipping and handling charges.

    Are ebay trialling a new feedback system alongside this experiment?

  • 8 years ago

    One thing I don’t like about selling on Amazon is that if the item is not in Amazons cataloge, the first seller who puts up the item for sale becomes the items default description. Most of the time they put up a very basic description and in most cases the description is misleading.

    It seems eBay are trying to correct this which should be good news. It looks like they are making their sellers look more professional to the general public.

  • Frustrated small biz
    8 years ago

    Another blow for small sellers. If I want to buy from Amazon, I’ll go there. Ebay continues to show that it thinks Amazon is better. So, why buy on Ebay any more?

    • Gerry007
      8 years ago

      .
      Agree

  • Gerry007
    8 years ago

    .
    I don’t think this is a good idea.

    Ebay should fix the DSR system 1st [fix the fairness of it & have a standard response @ customer support], before given sellers more headaches with buyers not properly understanding what they are doing.

    I took 2 months off ebay earlier this year, owing to being fed up with buyers who just don’t read things.
    Just didn’t need the hassle, now We’re back & hey the problems haven’t changed & i’m fed up with having to wonder [when we sign on each day]if a buyer has given us a bad mark for something we’ve not done.

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…..

    • northumbrian
      8 years ago

      ebay have fixed the DSR system it works to their advantage not ours!

  • northumbrian
    8 years ago

    “Many sellers have a sidebar embedded on the left hand side of their product descriptions or large headers, sellers will need to evaluate their usefulness compared to having item information prominently displayed in the Search Results Preview Pane”

    this has a big effect now buyers are conditioned by ebay not to scroll down many are not aware of self
    hosted pictures further down the page, so much so that we have now put a text message in the first gallery picture mentioning there are more pictures

    • northumbrian
      8 years ago

      ps
      we would be delighted to use ebays picture service if they were not squeezing the last drop out of us, by charging 10p or more a picture

      you cant touch it ,or feel it ,and if you want folks to see it, ebay holds you to ransom

  • katakitty
    8 years ago

    I can truthfully say that it is a miracle when someone actually manages to purchase anything on ebay these days. Fortunately on the search results that I’m seeing I can still click on the title to “jump” the arrows on the side and go straight into the listing, if I couldn’t do that I would never purchase on ebay. Click, click, click….

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